For the past five years my office has been on the 13th floor at 2 West 13th Street in New York. The elevators in our building don’t go up past twelve. And some of the security guards will tell you that the building has only twelve floors. But it’s true that four of us live up on the Malkovichian 13th floor. To reach us, you have to take one particular set of elevators — the ones in the NE corner of the building, near 5th Avenue — up to the 12th floor, hang a left, then another left in order to take the staircase opposite room 1213 up to the 13th floor. Once you’re there, you pass through the copy room to reach our office in the back.
While we do occasionally feel rather marginalized in our secret garret, we also take great pleasure in its lack of foot traffic, its calm and quiet. I’ve been fortunate to have a desk along the west wall, and beside that desk a window facing southwest. The predominance of low-rise development in Greenwich Village and the West Village means that I’ve enjoyed a relatively unobstructed view of Lower Manhattan and New Jersey. Over the past few years I’ve watched One World Trade Center rise to fill a void in the southern skyline. And because we typically teach in the late afternoons and evenings, I’ve seen many fantastically vivid sunsets through that window.
I’ve never been able to take a good photo because the wire mesh embedded in the glass always fools my phone’s camera; it seems to prefer to focus on the wire, rather than the view through the glass. So I have quite a collection of blurry sunset photos — and that blur is further marred by an ever-present vertical white streak on the outside of the window.
The School of Media Studies is moving to new quarters on 16th Street & 5th Avenue over the weekend. I’m not yet sure what kind of a view, if any, I’ll have from my new space. But I do know that I’ll miss my Sunsets Over New Jersey. Goodbye, Secret 13. We’ll miss you.